Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Brass Bits

The cuts of the shears can be seen on the edges of the pieces
(Private Colleciton)
The rest of the inkwell was a bit more complicated.  Looking at them, it was pretty clear that rolled brass sheet was being cut by massive metal working shears.  Often the cuts were a bit rough and not always straight.  This showed up even more clearly in the little rotating cap.  Many were truly cut with the same lack of precision as any cheep items that would go into this box.  It does tell you quite a bit about the perspective these boxes held in the period.

Looking at the engraving, it was a common rocking engraving with a sharp tool that was pivoted (rocked) as the person hit the end and made the V grove with the extra divot at the bottom of the V where the rocking happened.  The engravers didn't take a lot of care as noted by the overlapping of the lines in many places.

I went out and talked to several engravers until I found someone willing to discuss the project.  I was thinking of using him to engrave a set of brass blanks that could be used for casting masters.  One problem I had was that the pieces just couldn't be cut out with shears like before.  They would have to be laser cut, stamped out or cast.  Which way to go???

Rough edges of the slip cast pewter being filled by the
solder that was used too connect the tin-plated brass top
And how would I put them together?  Looking at originals, it was pretty obvious that the slip cast pewter pieces often were rough at the top; requiring quite a bit of solder to fill the gaps and often they weren't filled.  I was also concerned that any process would use a low enough temperature solder to keep from heat treating the brass and thus discoloring it during the making as it was very thin.  A solder for brass to pewter isn't something known about so I tabled the project for awhile as I was also working on the cap to the bottles - which was also pewter.  And of course, the casket project courses were now in full swing and I was both busy and we didn't have a final number of caskets of the type that needed inkwells.  I already knew that the pewter bottoms would have to be cast in numbers of 500 at Danforth Pewter.  So knowing the final number was important.  Therefore, I had some years before I would need to pick this up again.

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